The Lockdown Diaries: How I managed both work & postgrad studies from home in Belgium

3 Jun

Joanna Fountain
Namit Arora

The story of Namit Arora, a Masters in Marketing and Digital Transformation student at Vlerick Business School, in Belgium, who is studying and completing an in-company project from home. 

My passion for marketing, motivation to build a future in the heart of Europe, and aspiration to study in one of the best European Universities convinced me to pack my bags and embark upon the journey from New Delhi to Vlerick Business School in Belgium in 2019.

In the second week of March 2020, after seven months of rigorous classes, real-life projects, and priceless memories, we were working in groups towards our final project for L’Oréal when the news about the Coronavirus in Europe became the headline everywhere. Within the next two days, Vlerick responded quickly to the changing scenario and shifted the remaining classes online, including the final presentations and the competition. With the situation changing rapidly, I was constantly supported by my Belgian friends as they kept me updated about latest government decisions and rules. In addition to that, the International office of Vlerick Business School promptly provided the students with all the necessary information such as current lockdown rules and the weblinks to follow news updates.

Namit Arora in front of Vlerick Business SchoolIn front of Vlerick Business School

My time during this lockdown has been unique. Sharing the apartment with another Indian from the same university has been instrumental in not just killing boredom but also accepting numerous lockdown challenges, like the Dalgona Coffee challenge. The lockdown followed an intense period of seven months of classes where I was spending more or less 16 hours every day at the University, followed by three weeks of travelling in Ireland and France. Thus, the first two weeks of the lockdown gave me the much needed time for rejuvenation and relaxation.

Later, in the second week, our In-Company-Project started for UCB Pharmaceuticals – the company for which I am working virtually right now. Working during the day has kept me busy, and on my toes, even during the lockdown. The two hours of travelling time that I saved due to virtual internship have been invested in developing new skills that will be in demand after COVID-19. The only professional issue I have faced has been managing my long hair during formal meetings!

Completing a work project, studying for a Masters degree and responding to the Dalgona Coffee Challenge that took the internet by storm – how Namit Arora kept himself busy during lockdown in Belgium.

Gradually, things are starting to become better, and the Belgian government has started to lift the lockdown in phases, which has made it possible for me to see my friends, keeping in mind the social distancing norms. It is imperative to mention that we were constantly in touch with Vlerick via its digital platform and were even offered the possibility of talking to a psychologist in case we were feeling low due to the lockdown.

Good times before the pandemicGood times after lockdown relaxation

Today, I am allowed to go out, shop, and even take a small trip in Belgium whereas India is still in lockdown. Thinking of it now, I believe it was a rational decision to stay in Belgium, rather than packing my bags and leaving in panic. I believe it was my ability to keep multiple things on the table and take a calculated decision that helped me weather the storm thus far.

For other students planning to make a future abroad, I would suggest taking a holistic view, keeping all the variables in mind, and then making a decision. There is no one advice that fits all, so avoid listening to negative recession news and rather critically evaluate which industries will thrive after the crisis and plan things accordingly. There is no bad time to learn and grow.


Author: Namit Arora

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